Six years and 44 portraits later, Nicky Greenwall and Robin Fryer are set to release a coffee table book featuring exquisite portraits of some of South Africa’s favourite famous faces alongside excerpts of the life stories they shared with Greenwall during the production of the eTV show, ‘The Close Up.’
The coffee table book, titled ‘I’m Famous in South Africa’ is both a celebration of the South African celebrity and some of the country’s most popular influencers and a helping hand for an NPO named Neighbourhood Old Age Homes (or NOAH for short).
Although it took a year to put the whole book together, Greenwall says the first image was captured 6 years ago (by her husband, Fryer) and it was around the same time that she met Anne Dobson from NOAH.
“I liked the idea of what they do as an organisation, but I wanted to wait until I had a project that would fit with their cause. When we had the idea to do the book it all came together.”
Greenwall and Fryer, were drawn to NOAH’s vision of ‘home, health and happiness’ for every social pensioner and she says that it is a goal they believe is worth striving for.
“They don’t give handouts, they’re all about preserving the dignity of older people in our communities and making them feel ‘useful’ – which I believe is the secret to living a long and healthy life. I gained a lot of insight working on ‘The Close Up’ that I felt tied in with this ideal. I learned that we are more alike than we may at first acknowledge. Despite our different childhoods and perspectives, we all share the same journey – we are born, we grow-up, we do our best to make the most of the lives we are given, and we grow old – hopefully with little or no regrets. NOAH is also based in Greenwall Production’s (And Twenty Management’s) neighbourhood of Woodstock – an area that we feel deserves to be invested in,” said Greenwall.
In addition to compiling this project for a cause that is close to both their hearts, ‘I’m Famous in SA’ is the fruit borne of a collaborative effort of the couples’ skills.
The information that accompanies each portrait was selected from hundreds of hours of interview footage from interviews conducted by Greenwall for ‘The Close Up’ (a product of Greenwall Productions) and it is set to give readers a rare glimpse into the lives of their favourite local personalities. Since 2011, the show has enjoyed an audience of more than 500,000 viewers.
“My husband (Robin Fryer – former model and owner of Twenty Model Management) has been taking images of the celebs over the course of the last 6 years of our shows. A lot of the show was shot at our home, our offices and my mother’s house. We used some of the pictures as publicity for the series, but when I saw them all together I felt that they deserved a life beyond the show. I may be biased but – Robin is an amazing photographer. He manages to capture something very real, yet always elegant, about each subject,” gushed Greenwall.
Of the portraits in the book, Tol A$$ Mo’s picture is Greenwall’s favourite and of all the stories she has heard over the years, actor Desmond Dube’s story made a lasting impact on her perspective on life.
“[He] spent 2 years of his life living on the streets of Johannesburg. His story completely changed the way I look at life and people in general,” explained Greenwall.
And that is why she wants readers to gain some real insight into what fame feels like.
“It’s a cautionary tale – but one I believe needs to be told for us to grow as a society.”
Besides purchasing the book, she believes it is important to acknowledge the older people in our own lives.
“We all have older members of our families and communities. We should all try to spend time listening and learning from them. Robin’s father and my father both died of cancer. They were both too young to leave our lives. They would both have been 81 this year – so we dedicated the book to their memory,” she said.
Among the celebrities featured are: Loyiso Gola, Jeannie D, Maps Maponyane, Khanyi Mbau, Bonang Matheba, Siv Ngesi, Boity Thulo, Trevor Gumbi, Lee-Ann Liebenberg, Pearl Thusi, DJ Sbu, ProVerb, Terry Pheto, Leon Schuster, Jack Parow, Kabelo Mabalane, Desmond Dube, Kelly Khumalo, DJ Euphonik, A.K.A., Ross Learmonth from Prime Circle and loads more!
‘I’m Famous in South Africa’ doesn’t yet have a set date but Ingeborg Pelser of Quivertree Publications (the book’s official publishers and distributors) estimated that it will go on sale mid-July for a retail price of about R280.00 (incl. VAT). You can preview some of the images from the book here:
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For the past 34 years, NOAH has led the way in developing and implementing an innovative, credible and cost-effective model of support for pensioners. By providing affordable and secure housing solutions, access to affordable quality health care and holistic social support (including social enterprise development), active state pensioners are able to continue to lead purposeful and contributing lives.
Each year, NOAH provides a range of services for over 700 older persons and in this way this historically disenfranchised and still marginalised group retain their dignity and independence, feel more secure, are involved in their families, connected to their communities, and remain healthy, active and out of residential care for as long as possible.
Find out more about them by clicking here.